MIAMI (AP) — Just like his team, Atlanta Braves right-hander Ervin Santana got off to a strong start. Those feel-good days, though, have been few and far between for both parties over the last month.
Santana looks to avoid a third straight loss Saturday and help the Braves beat the Miami Marlins again after they rallied to end a four-game skid in the first of this three-game series.
Atlanta opened with 17 wins in 24 contests before being swept in a three-game set at Miami. That began a 12-18 stretch for the Braves, who scored once in the sixth inning and twice in the seventh Friday night to come away with a 3-2 win.
Santana started his first season with the Braves (29-25) by going 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in six starts, but he’s 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his past three. He was handed a 6-1 lead after four innings Monday against Boston before allowing five runs in the fifth and leaving without a decision in an 8-6 loss.
“He’s a guy that’s been pretty darn good for you, try to give him a chance to get the win there,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s a veteran guy that you would think would know how to wiggle through the lineup but that inning just unraveled on him.”
Santana (4-2, 4.06 ERA) also didn’t receive a decision May 1 in Miami after giving up three runs over six innings of a 5-4 defeat. He’s 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA in four starts against the Marlins (28-26), who went ahead Friday on Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run homer in the first.
The Braves won for the third time in their past 13 road games while the Marlins dropped to 20-9 at home. Atlanta has scored three or fewer runs in four straight games, but Gonzalez was pleased with his team’s approach at the plate.
“We hit the ball harder than any other game this year,” he said. “We were hitting rockets right at people all night long. The score wasn’t indicative of how well we swung the bat.”
Opposing Santana will be Jacob Turner, who is coming off his first win in 18 starts. Turner (1-2, 5.35) tossed 6 1-3 scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory over Milwaukee last Saturday, his first since defeating the Braves 6-2 on July 10.
“I feel like I’ve been pitching well the last three or four times out,” Turner said. “The results are the results, but I’m feeling confident out there and I feel like each time out I’m getting better.”
After beating the Braves last July, Turner went 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts against them in August. Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson are both 3 for 9 when facing the right-hander, with one of Johnson’s hits leaving the yard.
Johnson drove in the Braves’ first run Friday, while Freeman dropped to 0 for 28 with 12 strikeouts against Miami this year.
Stanton, among the major league leaders with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs, is 1 for 5 with three strikeouts against Santana.
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